Notice and Note: Using Inner Conversation to Monitor Comprehension with Contrast and Contradiction

Even though I teach sixth grade, I have to spend a lot of time in my reading block modeling and teaching students how to monitor their reading comprehension.  One of the best ways I've found to do this is by teaching my students about the inner conversation that good readers have with themselves. I start with an anchor chart of what that "voice in your head" is doing while you are reading and we discuss how readers who pay attention to their thinking, are more apt to learn, understand and remember what they read.  I teach my students that as readers they must leave tracks within their thinking.

Notice & Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst is a perfect book for educators who want students to connect with a story, and monitor their own comprehension.  In the book, Beers and Probst discuss the idea of six signposts that are apparent in good literature.  These signposts, or elements that occur in most genres of good literature, help students make connection to text and think authentically about what they are reading, instead of just "finishing" a book.  I basically devoured this book when I began reading it.  It justifies so many things that I believe about reading, and how to create a community of readers in your classroom.  It challenges students to dig deeper into text, and find the authenticity behind what they are reading.  I've begun teaching the sign posts to my students, and they are excited about reading again.  They are excited to dicuss a book, or story, or poem with their classmates.  They feel a little like detectives as they leave tracks, and make connections.

Signpost #1 Contrast and Contradictions
I began the signposts by teaching Contrast and Contradictions.  We created an anchor chart which defines the signpost, and I gave my students a tabbed book for their interactive notebooks where they could create an anchor chart for each signpost as well.  This helped to give them ownership in their learning, and a place to refer back to for anchor questions.

Contrast and Contradiction is the idea that there is a contrast between what we would EXPECT a character to be doing and what the character actually does.  An author will use this in a novel or story for character development, to show internal conflict, theme, or show a relationship between the setting and the plot of the story.  The key to the signpost is in the anchor question.  For contrast and contradiction we are looking at WHY would the character act this way?  It allows students to pause in their thinking and make inferences and connections within the text.

After explaining the concept and creating our anchor charts, I began by showing my students a video that contained several contrasts and contraditions.  I used the Pixar short Presto which is about a magician and the conflicts between his bunny and himself.

I stopped after the first section where a Contrast and Contradiction occurs, and modeled for my students in our tabbed book what was going on, and then used the anchor questions to write about what I was thinking at this point in the story.  LEAVING TRACKS!  Then I continued on with the story stopping at several other areas that showed a C/C and had students turn and talk about it, always emphasizing the anchor question, and that is the key to the deeper understanding.

When we finished with the lesson I  had them read and find at least one C/C in their independent reading books.

On the second day we reviewed Contrast and Contradiction using this great video by Brent Peterson.

Then I modeled the C/C again using the short story "Thank You Ma'am" by Langston Hughes.  This lesson is completely modeled for you in the Notice and Note book.  So if you are nervous about how to get started teaching the signposts, Beers and Probst do an amazing job walking you through the steps with students, and give tons of ideas and books to help you.

Here are a few other books that you could use to reinforce the idea of Contrasts and Contradictions with your students.  (LINKS GO TO AMAZON)

I especially liked using The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  This Newbery winner is written completely in poetry prose, so it is a perfect way to show my students that Notice and Note Signposts can come in all forms of literature.  I have been using it as my own independent reading book example with my students.

Here is a link to the Notice and Note book if you are interested in learning more about helping your students think deeper about text.

I'll share my experience with AHA Moments soon.  Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any resources you may have for using Notice and Note in your classroom!  


  1. I'm in the process of wanting to use Notice and Note for high school. The work pages you show the kids using are interesting. Are they in the book? (waiting for my copy to arrive)

    1. Hi Theresa, they are not in the book. I created them to use as I taught the signposts. You can out the tabbed booklet here: Notice and Note Signpost Tabbed Booklet
      if you would like. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

  2. Thank you so much! I used the video lesson this week to introduce this signpost with my 4th graders this week. Such a fun and engaging way to start off! I noticed you have lessons for Aha Moments and Questions...did I miss any others?
    Mary L.

  3. I just wanted to say Thank you!! I have the book and am about to implement the instruction. I stumbled on your blog today and now I can't wait to get started. I bought your tabbed booklet. You have helped me so much.

  4. This is such a wonderful overview and really PD on how to use this resource. I have owned the Notice and Note book since it first came out because everyone was talking about it, but I never made time to read it. I am about to read Esperanza Rising with my students and think that Notice and Note Signposts are going to be essential to my students understanding this book. Thanks for your awesome resources and guidance in this area! Keep up the great work.!


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